USS Barry (DD-248)
Built by the New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, NJ, the USS Barry was a Clemson-class Destroyer laid down soon after the Allied victory of the First World War. It was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in November of 1921 and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet after being held nearly a year in reserve. For the next two decades it conducted operations in both the Atlantic and Pacific, including training and fleet maneuvers. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Barry operated primarily as an escort, defending ships from German submarines between Cuba and Panama and in other Atlantic waters. Later, it was reassigned to waters on the Japanese home front. The ship received four battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation over the course of the war, and was sunk by kamikaze planes off the coast of Okinawa on June 21, 1945, just three months prior to the surrender of the Japanese forces.
Those who served on the USS Barry were likely exposed to asbestos over the course of their regular duty. Until the mid-1970’s, asbestos was commonly found in equipment on Navy ships, including boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, and electrical components. Materials such as gaskets and packing were also often wholly made from asbestos. These were found in a high concentration in the boiler and engine spaces, which put veterans who worked in these areas such as Boiler Tenders and Machinist’s Mates at in contact with elevated levels of asbestos on a daily basis. The companies who provided the Navy with these asbestos products were often aware of asbestos’ devastating effect on the human body, but did nothing to warn those who served on the USS Barry or other ships from this era. As a result, many Navy veterans contracted mesothelioma, a cancer only known to be caused by asbestos.
Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness have a right to seek compensation from the companies whose negligence allowed them to be exposed to asbestos. Settlements can often cover medical bills in whole or part, and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering. Legal counsel should be sought soon after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis however, as the time in which a lawsuit can be filed is limited.